The Science Behind Amusement Parks


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          As much as I hate to admit it, I've realized that I'm an extremely impatient person. Little things such as waiting for my to computer to load, standing in line for food, or waiting for a friend to pick me up are all consistently annoying tasks. But the one thing that tests my patience more than anything else? Long lines at amusement parks.

         For as long as I can remember, I've questioned the concept of amusement parks. Paying an obscene amount of money to pretty much wait in line all day seems illogical, and I'd rather spend my vacation on a beach rather than continually waiting on lines. Are the rides really worth the wait? In fact, according to Disney research, "the average Magic Kingdom visitor has had time for only nine rides out of more than 40 because of lengthy waits and crowded walkways and restaurants".

As technology continues to advance and our society becomes faster paced, people's ability to wait has surely declined. With smartphones, computers, and video games developing a more prominent role in society, it makes sense that people have grown accustomed to the idea of wanting something, and then receiving it rather quickly. But what I failed to take in to consideration when questioning amusement parks is that technology is also advancing in these parks, and there are scientific methods devoted to reducing time spent in lines.

The most noteworthy effort of reducing long lines can be seen in Magic Kingdom in Disney World. Magic Kingdom, which has been reported as the most attended theme park in the world in 2012, has developed an underground bunker called Disney Operational Command Center in hopes of reducing lone lines. This center uses video cameras, computer programs, and digital park maps, as well as other forms of technology to spot lines before they become unbearable. They have also developed a color code for employees, where televisions present rides shown as different colors (red, green, yellow) that depict the current wait time. By knowing when attractions are about to become crowded, it allows workers to react and prevent the situation for occurring. For example, "if the Pirates of the Caribbean ride suddenly blinks from green to yellow, the center might respond by alerting managers to launch more boats". On rides such as roller coasters where they cannot just produce more boats or carts, workers can also react by sending characters or mini parades to entertain guests. Due to the creation of the Operational Command Center, Disney has been able to boost the average amount of rides visitors do at Magic Kingdom from 9 to 10. This is not a huge jump, but technicians are still working on other ways to reduce lines such as smart phone apps, fast pass, etc. In fact, the technology has become so advanced that some even compared it to that of military command centers.

Although amusement parks aren't run by the magical characters that they are based off of, this new technology to reduce lines comes pretty close to magic. It shows that Disney has realized lines are not worth the wait, but they are trying everything in their power to make the line shorter and more enjoyable. Technology is advancing, and amusement parks definitely are too.

AmusementPark.jpg

 

Works cited:

 

BARNES, BROOKS. "Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem: Lines." The New York Times. N.p., 27 Dec. 2010. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/business/media/28disney.html?_r=0>

 

"Disney World App." Disney World. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. <http://touringplans.com/disney-world-app>

 

"Global Themepark Attendance For 2012 Via TEA Report." The Disney Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. <http://thedisneyblog.com/2013/06/06/global-themepark-attendance-for-2012-via-tea-report/>

 

"Military Experience and the Civilian Follow-On Job." Military Disney Tips Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. <http://www.militarydisneytips.com/blog/walt-disney-world/military-experience-and-the-civilian-follow-on-job/>


2 Comments

I'm a huge fan of amusement parks, personally. Every year, my family and I go to Cedar Point, a place with lots of roller coasters and long lines. I know of many times when there have been concession stands in the lines and an interactive DJ to keep us entertained. It truly makes the time seem to go faster. "If you reduce the wait, whether real or perceived, it is critical" said senior vice president of Disney World. This means that it is all about the illusion, rather than actual wait time, and I know that this trick has worked on me before. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/08/business/la-fi-theme-park-lines-20130809

Very interesting post! As a marketing major, I find it fascinating that science plays such a large role in business. In my MGMT 300 class, last year we actually learned about how amusement parks even try and optimize the physical shape of the ride lines to increase their efficiency. Apparently, studies have even been done on how to maximize the amount of ride visitors per day by making the queues themselves entertaining and more tolerable.Here's an article about how its done at Disney:

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201102/2328/

I actually just went to Magic Kingdom this past summer and got the chance to experience the infamous Disney ride lines firsthand. After spending the whole day, I was probably able to get on between 12-15 rides, so better than the average that was mentioned in the study.

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